Alongsiders International has developed an entire system for training young Christians, equipping them to mentor one child from their own community, and providing monitoring and follow up as the relationship progresses. The system moves through 3 phases. For each phase we develop locally contextualized materials that will be effective in your language and cultural setting:
When invited to share at a local church, the Alongsiders Coordinators will meet with the pastor in advance to share about how Alongsiders can serve their church. After that, the Alongsiders Coordinators make a time to meet with interested Christian youth from the church and share God's heart for the poor, and in particular for vulnerable children. Youth (over 18) are shown the simple steps to forming an Alongsiders group within their church and begin to pray and discern which child in their own community God might be calling them to walk alongside.
Orientation and Envisioning Materials
When sharing in new churches or giving the initial Orientation training to new mentors, coordinators can draw on the simple, beautifully illustrated flip-charts we have developed. These flip-charts allow the vision to be communicated using pictures, which is especially helpful for contexts with low literacy.
Upon acceptance as an Alongsider Mentor, the group will receive an initial Orientation in how to walk alongside a vulnerable child, as well as Child Protection Training. Soon they will begin using the monthly lessons in the 3 year curriculum. These lessons are specially designed to equip both the mentors themselves and for use in teaching their "little brothers and sisters". Once a year, there is an opportunity to attend an Alongsiders Training Camp - an inspiring time of fun, worship and learning more.
Alongsiders International has developed an innovative three year curriculum for Alongsider mentors to work through with their little brothers and sisters.
Over the course of 9 modules (27 individual lessons) Christian youth learn about God's love, salvation, forgiveness and radical welcome for everyone - especially poor children. They learn about justice, prayer, freedom from fear, and reconciliation. They learn to deal with the challenges of drugs, pornography and gangs. And they learn essential skills for life such as stewardship, goal-setting and leadership.
And of course, much, much more.
All these Biblical lessons are presented in a fun, visual, story-based (comic book) format - which is not only for the mentor, but also for their "little brother" or "little sister". Because they are learning in order to pass the lesson onto another person, they are more likely to deeply internalize the lessons.
This training curriculum is contextualized for each country using the local language, culture and artwork.
The theoretical foundation of the Alongsiders curriculum is the world-renowned Response Abilities Pathways (RAP) framework which has been used with excellent results all over the world. RAP applies Circle of Courage principles to help young people develop belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. RAP concepts are grounded in research evidence on resilience, brain science, and positive psychology.
Read a sample comic here (English version):
Lesson 6 English "My Heart Hurts"
This lesson helps the Alongsider talk to their little brother or sister about healthy ways to let their emotions out.
This is one of the first steps towards developing Emotional intelligence (EQ) - the ability to identify and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, overcome challenges and deal with conflict.
3. MONITORING & FOLLOW UP
Group leaders and regional representatives work together with the Alongsiders Coordinators to ensure that each mentor and their little brother or sister is thriving in their new relationship. Regular follow up routines help iron out any issues and keep mentors encouraged and inspired in their important role. Many of the "little brothers and sisters" are glad to join the church, often along with their extended family, and this widened support network is a crucial form of support for both the child and their mentor.
Mobile App and Software
Alongsiders International has developed mobile and internet technology which helps us register and keep track of mentors and their little brothers and sisters even in distant rural villages.
Through this software we can do a quick and simple baseline survey when new little brothers and sisters are registered and track their progress through the curriculum.
Using the same software (which runs on any Android mobile phone or tablet), we can easily do follow up surveys to measure transformation educationally, socially, even emotionally and spiritually.
This means that for the first time in history, a movement like this can quantify its impact on an ongoing, up to date basis.